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Is Veganism the Best Way to Tackle Climate Change?

If you’re here then you’re probably looking for a few answers to how a vegan diet can help save the environment and drastically cut down your carbon footprint.

For anyone who is feeling slightly pessimistic about this, there are countless scientific reports and data available to back up that veganism is one of the answers to solving climate change!

I actually grew up on a pig farm. This was definitely pivotal for my dietary and lifestyle choices. I cut out meat when I was 13 years old and by 19 had switched to a vegan diet.

Although for me, the choice was initially made because of the animal cruelty that comes along with the farming industry, as I continued my journey I learnt more and more about other benefits that came along with the diet – including the environmental ones.

Whilst veganism might have been a choice that people turned their nose up to in the past, there are now hard-hitting facts and evidence that back up the lifestyle choice.

You can't argue with science

Animal agriculture is responsible for at least 14.5% of global greenhouse gas emissions. According to researchers at Oxford Martin School, widespread adoption of a meat-free diet could see greenhouse gas emissions drop by 63%; or 70% for a vegan diet.

Joseph Poore who led the research of a new study by Oxford University said, “Agriculture is a sector that spans all the multitude of environmental problems. Avoiding consumption of animal products delivers far better environmental benefits than trying to purchase sustainable meat and dairy.”

And greenhouse gases aren't the only issue...

Did you know that it takes about 31.5 kilowatt-hours of energy to produce one pound of beef—a little under the amount of energy your fridge uses to run for a whole month. And it takes about 460 gallons of water to make one quarter-pound beef patty—that’s the equivalent of taking 23 showers - Denver water.

The catch with fish

And sadly, it’s not just farming on land that’s causing drastic environmental effects. Fishing causes huge damages to the ocean and life within it. There’s many different forms of fishing and fish farming which cause huge problems, one of which is trawling.

This essentially involves dragging a huge net across the ocean floor to capture the fish but in doing this it also drags up everything else on the ocean floor and captures a whole load of other marine animals called bycatch. As of 2019, about 46% of all bycatch comes from bottom trawls.

This is incredibly wasteful, and the dead animals are simply chucked back overboard. And whilst there are of course directs impacts such as the damage on corals, sponges, fishes and other animals there is now also calculations on how this negatively impacts the ocean on a global scale.

The first calculation of how much of the seabed is resuspended (or stirred up) by bottom-trawling shows that the sediment mass is approximately the same amount of all sediment being deposited on the world’s continental shelves by rivers each year (almost 22 gigatons) - USGS.

By resuspending bottom sediment, nutrient levels in the ambient water, and the entire chemistry of the water is changed. Resuspended sediment can lower light levels in the water, and reduce photosynthesis in ocean-dwelling plants, the bottom of the food web. The resuspended sediment is carried elsewhere by currents, and often lost from the local ecosystem - USGS.

How and why to make the switch

According to the WWF's Livewell report, switching to a vegan diet is one of the biggest ways you can cut your personal carbon emissions - with vegans having the lowest carbon emissions of all dietary types.

I could list facts, figures and statistics for endless pages, but I’m sure by now you get the point. Animal farming contributes to climate change and environmental damage through greenhouse gas emissions, water usage, desertification, soil degradation amongst others. If you would like to read more about reasons to go vegan you can find more facts here!

If you’re not into reading, a great couple of watches on Netflix include ‘Cowspiracy’ and ‘Seaspiracy’. Even as a vegan, these were still incredibly eye-opening watches to me. Particularly learning more in depth about the fishing industry and all the hidden things that go on behind the scenes – including human rights abuses at sea.

It’s not all doom and gloom though. There is a growing awareness of lifestyle changes and massive growth in options for vegans. I’ve seen first hand the exponential increase of choice in supermarkets, restaurants and elsewhere over the past 5 years.

It’s becoming easer and easier and with this the change to a vegan lifestyle is not the daunting one it used to be! If you’re considering it you can find information and tips here!


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